Loving our Enemies doesn’t mean denying our Anger

I’m so excited to see many of my friends actively engaging in trying to live lives of love.  It continues to be a personal mission of mine to encourage and inspire people to love well.  I believe that learning to live loved and live love is a truly transforming way to impact ourselves, homes, cities, and world.  As I have written extensively elsewhere, the kind of love by its nature is a self-giving, self-emptying love.  This means its much more than the way we love potato chips or chicken wings, and much more than the kind of love that consumes the life of another for our own satisfaction.   I am talking about a rugged, deep, healing transformative love.   For the Spiritual among you, I am speaking of divine love or more specifically the God-who-loves.

Sometimes our faith can be a stumbling block because we form God as just a better version of ourselves, who coincidently loves the same people we do and hates the ones we hate.  We can get caught in a bit of mind game where we can feel justified, and even righteous hating another person or group.  As we learn to jettison these shallow images of God, we can go much deeper on the journey of becoming love.

I have been learning over the past couple of years how to love my enemies.  Those who don’t agree with me, who aren’t nice to me, and yes, those who have hurt me.  Of course, a 1000 word post can only scratch the surface but let me speak to one stumbling block to loving well.  Sometimes, in our sincere desire to love our enemies, we think this includes denying our anger. Though well-intentioned this will put us in the ditch. Anger is a normal response to injustice. To be angry at someone doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

It is not being angry that is the problem, the issue is how we deal with our anger.

Piously ignoring our anger is not a spiritual virtue

Pretending we aren’t angry, or piously ignoring our anger is not a spiritual virtue. Anger that isn’t dealt with in healthy ways will turn septic quickly - bitterness. Bitterness makes it impossible to love our enemies, and many others as well.  In some cases, bitterness can so overtake a person's life that it can poison the relationships with those closest to us.

One way through our anger is forgiveness. I know... easier said than done. What has helped me is to realize that forgiveness must never be conflated with the idea that what has happened is somehow okay or all-of-a-sudden right.  Nor does it mean we have to trust those who have hurt us (again).

Forgiveness of others is a gift that we give to ourselves. It is a process of working through

Forgiveness of others is a gift that we give to ourselves

our hurt and offense.  Forgiveness doesn’t fix or change what has happened but it is the path towards getting free of the painful emotions, and back to living life a little more fully. It is the practice and process of releasing our unattainable desire for a different past, action, and consequence.

We can also consider healthy ways that we can address the injustice with the people and situations involved. In this way, healthy anger and forgiveness can be catalysts for change - for healing, reconciliation.

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